Michael Pollan’s Food Rules


In December 2009, journalist Michael Pollan followed up his wildly successful bestseller In Defense of Food with another bestseller, a pocket-sized guidebook called simply Food Rules.   He lists 64 rules in total, many derived from his research but quite a few from fan submissions.   All are listed below.  

Antonie and I reviewed them the other night.  While Pollan isn’t Primal, he’s a solid researcher and most of his insights and suggestions are compatible with a Primal diet.   We find ourselves in agreement with the vast majority of his rules.  I’ve bolded the ones I disagree with — though number 23 is the only one I disagree with completely. 

What do you think?   Which stand out most to you?  Which do you like most?  Which do you disagree with?  

1.  Eat food
2.  Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food
3.  Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry
4.  Avoid food products that contain high-fructose corn syrup
5.  Avoid food products that have some form of sugar (or sweetener listed among) the top three ingredients
6.  Avoid food products that have more than 5 ingredients
7.  Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce
8.  Avoid food products that make health claims
9.  Avoid food products with the wordoid “lite” or the terms “low fat” or “nonfat” in their names
10.  Avoid foods that are pretending to be something they are not
11.  Avoid foods you see advertised on television
12.  Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle
13.  Eat only foods that will eventually rot
14.  Eat foods made from ingredients that you can picture in their raw state or growing in nature
15.   Get out of the supermarket whenever you can
16.   Buy your snacks at the farmers market
17.   Eat only foods that have been cooked by humans
18.   Don’t ingest foods made in places where everyone is required to wear a surgical cap
19.   If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.
20.   It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car
21.   It’s not food if it’s called by the same name in every language (Think Big Mac, Cheetos or Pringles)
22.   Eat mostly plants, especially leaves
23.   Treat meat as a flavoring or special occasion food
24.   Eating what stands on one leg [mushrooms and plant foods] is better than eating what stands on two legs [fowl], which is better than eating what stands on four legs [cows, pigs and other mammals].
25.   Eat your colors
26.   Drink the spinach water
27.   Eat animals that have themselves eaten well
28.   If you have space, buy a freezer
29.   Eat like an omnivore
30.   Eat well-grown food from healthy soil
31.   Eat wild foods when you can
32.   Don’t overlook the oily little fishes
33.   Eat some foods that have been predigested by bacterial or fungi
34.   Sweeten and salt your food yourself
35.   Eat sweet foods as you find them in nature
36.   Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk
37.   The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead
38.   Favor the kinds of oils and grains that have traditionally been stone-ground
39.   Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself
40.   Be the kind of person who takes supplements – then skip the supplements
41.   Eat more lie the French. Or the Japanese. Or the Italians. Or the Greeks.
42.   Regard nontraditional foods with skepticism
43.   Have a glass of wine with dinner
44.   Pay more, eat less
45.   Eat less
46.   Stop eating before you’re full
47.   Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored
48.   Consult your gut
49.   Eat slowly
50.   The banquet is in the first bite
51.   Spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare it
52.   Buy smaller plates and glasses
53.   Serve a proper portion and don’t go back for seconds
54.   Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like  pauper
55.   Eat meals
56.   Limit your snacks to unprocessed plant foods
57.   Don’t get your fuel from the same place your car does
58.   Do all your eating at a table
59.   Try not to eat alone
60.   Treat treats as treats
61.   Leave something on your plate
62.   Plant a vegetable garden if you have space, a window box if you don’t
63.   Cook
64.   Break the rules once in a while

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About Bob Ewing

On twitter @DCBarefootRun. Media guy for libertarian law firm by day, primal/paleo (rocking climbing, BJJ, barefooter) by, well, lunchtime... https://theprimalchallenge.wordpress.com/ http://DCBarefootRun.com
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One Response to Michael Pollan’s Food Rules

  1. Scott Ewing says:

    Great post! Whenever someone starts talking diet, or wants some basic advice on what to eat, I usually point them to this handy little guide. I’ve even given away two copies of this book as gifts. Simple, concise, memorable.

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